This summer I’m teaching a series of Read Around the World lessons for a group of kids ages 2.5 years to 5.5 years old. You can read an explanation of how I do the lessons and some of the materials I use here.
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The country we visited this week was China! We start every lesson by locating the country on our map and having one of the kids draw our flight path using a dry erase crayon. Then they glue the country’s stamp in their passport and I stamp the date on it.
One of the kids took a turn dressing our paper doll from the country. Education.com has printable paper dolls that I had previously cut, colored, laminated, and added velcro on so we could reuse them many times, but you could also have kids color their own to keep.
We talked a little bit about the clothes, flag, and food of China.
To introduce several aspects of the country the first book we read was China in Colors by Marla Gamze-Pendergrast
Dragons dancing in parades were mentioned in the book and so afterward I gave the kids dragon masks printed on card stock to color and assemble. Because the masks are kind of intricate to cut out I had done that ahead of time and then we taped a Popsicle stick to the back after they finished coloring.
They thought this was a lot of fun and kept their masks close by for the rest of the lesson!
I showed them some clips of dragon dances and Chinese New Year parades on youtube that I had previously found.
Then we listened to this interactive Chinese New Year’s song:
The kids got up and danced around to the actions while holding their masks up. They all got really into it and wanted to listen to it a couple times.
Next we read The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
The book has quite a few words, so I did skim over sentences as I read it for this age group. As I read it I made sure to point out all the mentions of The Great Wall of China throughout it since that was the next thing we were talking about.
When the story was over I pulled up some actual pictures of the wall to show them and talk to them about. Then I had them build their own walls with materials I provided them. We used dominos, jenga blocks, mega blocks, and duplos and I gave a different material to each kid so they could build their own.
And then after a little bit they decided to combine their materials to make their walls even longer and stronger.
Afterward I gave them a coloring page of the Great Wall
Then we took a snack break to eat noodles with chopsticks. I realize that Ramen noodles are not the most authentic, but they are kid friendly and easy to pick up with chopsticks!
While they ate I read them two different Chinese tales:
The Water Dragon by Li Jian
This was one of my favorites of all of the books on this post. I loved how the main character helped others on his journey and they way everything connected. The story definitely held the kids’ attention and there is Chinese text on the pages so kids can have exposure to those as well.
Rabbit’s Gift by George Shannon
This is a simple and sweet story about sharing and generousity that was great for the younger kids’ level.
Then we played a matching game/Memory game with these Chinese number cards.
I have previously played this game as well, but it is two person game and we ran out of time for it in this lesson: Pong Hau K’i game
I had several other Chinese picture books checked out from the library that could have been used in the lesson as well, but I chose the ones I thought fit in best with the topics I was covering and the interests of the kids. The rest of these books I have used in my previous China lesson with my son or I read them at another time with my kids this week.
The Empty Pot by Demi
This one has great message! The author has other Chinese legend picture books as well.
Fa Mulan by Robert D. San Souci
I’m a major fan of the Mulan legend so I was really happy to find this version that I thought told the story well and was not ridiculously long for a picture book. We son loved this one as well.
The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker
A fun version of the tale where the seven sisters each have different special abilities that they have to use to save their youngest sister when she is taken by a dragon. When I did my first China lesson with my son he wanted to read this one over and over again.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim
Goldy Luck goes to deliver some food to a neighboring family of pandas for Chinese New Year and ends up wreaking havoc on their house. This version of the familiar tale is refreshing, because the Goldilocks character has to actually take responsibility for her actions and repair the damage.
D is for Dancing Dragon by Carol Crane
This one is geared toward older kids and is full of a wide variety of great information on China. If doing it with young kids you could skip around or talk about the pictures.
Farewell to China. Next stop… France!